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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Story Behind "Running to Stand Still"

Here’s yet another short story with a title based on a song. In this case it’s U2’s “Running to Stand Still”.

This story was inspired by a stop at a stop sign. As I drove home from class one day a green Dodge truck stopped in front of me for an inordinate amount of time. The windows were tinted so I couldn’t see the driver and my first impulse was that they were on the phone getting directions to their next destination. Being the creative type, however, the next thing to pop into my head was that the driver might be having a heart attack. I didn’t take this impulse very seriously, and when they finally decided to move I decided to craft a story around that concept.

For the first half of the story, I took a couple items from school life for inspiration. Professor Parker was inspired by a professor I had for a couple of classes who studied in England and is also a Jesuit priest. He’s a great professor, and students who get past the massive amount of material he assigns thoroughly enjoy his class. (Over one semester we read The Portrait of a Lady, Madame Bovary, Wurthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice all of which we found we had to purchase after our first day of class since the professor doesn’t use technology.) He can be tough though if you don’t put in the effort.

The policy about waiting 24 hours to discuss a grade on a paper didn’t come from that professor though, it actually came from a Public Speaking class. Our instructor, a graduate student who was student teaching to work her way through grad school, had that requirement to allow students to think about the grade and come up with a reasonable argument for why they should receive a better grade. On occasion a reasonable argument would receive a better grade.

The student characters weren’t based on anyone in particular. I included a slight religious joke in the character of Saul/Paul though. If you don’t know the story, the apostle Paul was originally a Roman named Saul until he was blinded on the road to Damascus leading to his conversion to Christianity and his name change to Paul.

I do intend to revise this one, although I’m not sure if I want to extend the story and give more reason for Jenny Hollander’s brief appearance, or if I want to keep it short and omit her. I also want to give Oliver more conflict at the end of the story as well. If you have other suggestions I’d be more than happy to hear them!

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